Doctor Who Audio Review: The One Doctor
Written by: Gareth Edwards and Clayton Hickman
Directed by: Gary Russell
Featured Doctor: The Sixth (Colin Baker)
Featured Companion: Melanie Bush (Bonnie Langford)
Doctor Who has an interesting relationship with humor.
While we always associate the show with comedy, it’s not really a comedic show. Sure, The Doctor stumbles around, cracks a few one liners but you get the feeling that the comedy is just part of The Doctor’s personality since it doesn’t feature too much in most episodes. Off the top of my head the only Doctor Who episode I can really call a comedy episode is my personal favorite, “City of Death”, and even that one has a serious villain and actual peril. There are a couple few that attempted to be more lighthearted and fun like “Dinosaurs on a Spaceship” but they all tended to be a combination of silly, boring and pointless.
So to go full steam ahead and make a totally comedic Doctor Who story could go either of two ways: It’ll either be hilarious and amazing or it’s going to be very silly and embarrassing. Which one was this one? Well, first, the plot.
The Doctor and Mel answer a distress call from the Generios System in the far future, only to discover that it’s all been fixed by… The Doctor. Yes, it seems that a future version of The Doctor and his companion Sally-Ann saved the Generios System from the threat of the evil Skelloids. Except for the fact that there are no such things as Skelloids.
As it turns out, this “Doctor” (who’s really name is Bantho Zame) and Sally-Ann are actually two con artists who staged a fake invasion, pretended to be the legendary hero The Doctor and are “reluctantly” accepting a monetary prize for their actions. Things get complicated when the actual Doctor (and an actual companion) appears and then get even MORE complicated when a real alien menace is threatening to destroy the Generios System.
Can The Doctor save the Generios System before it’s too late? Can he expose the fake Doctor? Will this be extremely silly?
Well, the first two you can find out when you list to it, but the third question is a little harder to explain.
Like I said, this is a comedic DW story, and it’s a very specifically British type of humor. It’s silly and over-the-top, which means your mileage may vary depending on whether you like that type of humor or not.
If you’re on the fence, where it’s kind of one way or the other, then I can tell you that this story executes its humor well, only occasionally stepping a little too over the line (and we’ll get to that) and keeping the threat present but also “over there” so it doesn’t get in the way of the fun.
This is one of those stories that really suits the Doctor it was written for, because the Sixth Doctor is the proudest and most arrogant of all the Doctors, so the idea of someone else taking over his identity REALLY ticks him off. When he and Bantho Zame finally meet, he gets all blustery and mad and very little kiddish, which is VERY Doctor-ish and it’s just fun to hear him get so annoyed about his reputation.
Mel is also very fun and was probably the appropriate choice, given her general peppiness and fun, as opposed to Peri’s eye rolling sarcasm or Evelyn’s no nonsense motherly attitude. She kinda got the short end of the stick in the show because the writers made Mel to match Bonnie Langford’s most famous role as a spoiled, annoying brat, instead of a real character, but Big Finish have actually worked to redeem her and make her brave, kind and overall fun to be around.
Bantho and Sally-Ann are also incredibly fun, as a kind of cynical version of The Doctor/ Companion pair that evolve as the story goes along (one of them anyway) and even when they’re being huge asses, there’s still something charming and endearing about both of them. Also, Sally-Ann might be the most “gee wiz”, “gosh darn, Doctor” name for a companion I’ve ever seen. It fits right alongside Sarah Jane Smith and Jo Grant, as far as I’m concerned.
The actual story itself is mostly an excuse to involve The Doctor in Douglas Adams-esque shenanigans, as he, Mel, Bantho and Sally-Ann split up to gather the greatest treasures of the system. The treasures all have some associated challenge which has some sort of trick to it or some such, but this is really the place where the story might lose you. Specifically, the one related to the giant space slime monster. I think that might be the point where things got slightly too silly, not helped by the filters on the voice, which made it difficult to understand what he was saying.
Apart from that, it’s just a straight up fun to listen audio story. Great characters, great premise, funny jokes, all around strong execution and even fun sound effects. A little silly, sure, but if you’re into that then you can just sit back, relax and laugh away.